Cleared To Be Busted

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FAA Staff Approve Unauthorized Flights To DC-3...

Managers of two of three Washington-area airports closed to transient traffic since 9/11 say flight service staff and even air traffic controllers continue to steer unauthorized flights in their direction, causing security alerts and landing pilots in hot water. The DC-3 airports -- College Park, Hyde Field and Potomac Airfield-- are within the 15-nm Flight Restriction Zone around Washington and are closed to all aircraft except those based at any of the three and flown by a specially screened pilot. Yet, incredibly, FAA staff continue to approve flight plans to two facilities have even vector unauthorized flights to one of them, according to airport managers. FAA spokesman William Shumann said he'd heard nothing about those types of incidents but will check into it. College Park manager Lee Schiek said he'd love to get a call from Shumann or anyone else at the FAA. "Since 9/11 there have been four recorded instances where a pilot has filed a flight plan and been vectored in (to land at College Park) by ATC," said Schiek. He said that in one case, a pilot checked with a Long Island FSDO before departing and asked directly how to fly into College Park. Schiek said the pilot was told to file an IFR flight plan, which he did. Along the way, the pilot was handled by Washington Center and the Potomac TRACON before touching down. According to Schiek, that pilot has been notified of impending sanctions by the FAA. Schiek said he knows at least one of the other three unauthorized pilots who landed there got a 60-day suspension. "Our federal government has put together a set of dysfunctional operating procedures based upon intellectually dishonest assumptions and delivered with a big degree of institutional arrogance," he said.